acquaintance with the Gulf Coast Turtle and Tortoise Society (GCTTS) also
asked me to join in a letter writing campaign to stop the commercial harvest
of turtles in Texas for export to the Asian food markets. The GCTTS is
located in Houston, Texas.
The Texas Parks
and Wildlife Department is considering changes to their regulations that
would eliminate commercial harvesting of wild turtles at least for large
scale export as food for Asian markets. Public comments are being received
until May 24, 2007. Read about it at these link:
Parks and Wildlife Department
Turtle and Tortoise Society
A few years ago
I attended a presentation at a local herpetological society meeting given
by a herpetologist with the Philadelphia Zoo. The presentation was basically
video taken in turtle markets in China. We were warned that the video was
hard to watch. It certainly was. The scale of the markets, the number of
turtles available, and the inhumane treatment of the turtles were beyond
anyone's expectations. I was appalled at what I saw.
Turtles were seen
in crates staked up the way rocks are sold by landscape material suppliers.
Most of the turtles in the crates arrived dead. There did not appear to
be any urgency to keep the turtles alive until ready to sell because there
were so many crates of turtles.
I could describe
more, but I will not be that graphic.
In my opinion no wild
animal in the United States should be commercially harvested and exported
to China or other Asian food markets. I do not believe that any populations
of wild animals can be sustained when subjected to uncontrolled commercial
harvesting. I also believe it is wrong for us to allow any wild animals
from the United States to be subjected to the cruel and inhumane treatment
the turtles are subjected to when shipped to China and Asia. We do not
tolerate such inhumane of treatment of animals inside the United States.
It is not easy to
write regulations that are effective and balance the demands for conservation,
sustainable collections for the pet trade, and for personal collection
for pets. In too many states pet owners are being trampled on by over zealous
regulators. Captive breeding is often regulated out of existence. This
is an opportunity to encourage balance in Texas while stopping the unsustainable
commercial harvesting of turtles in Texas. I urge you to write or email
your comments to Robert Macdonald of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Thomas R. Schucker